Posted by Dr. Julie Boudreault On 10-01-2023
For some children, going to the dentist can be a stressful process, especially if they are experiencing any anxiety. At Milltown Dental, we maintain a warm, friendly environment, and offer customized services that meet the needs of every family member.
One of the services we offer is the application of nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) as it helps alleviate tension for patients of all ages. Our pediatric dentist in Milton oversees children’s dental care and effectively takes them through the stages of dental progression. By following a proactive, preventative approach, our experienced team helps avoid tooth decay and other potential dental issues.
That being said, there are often some underlying concerns surrounding this process when it comes to new patients and/or children. The following guide will help outline the different benefits of nitrous oxide during dental procedures, as well as the safety precautions that are taken when treating children.
What is nitrous oxide?
Nitrous oxide is a colourless, odourless gas that acts as a safe sedative option for both adults and children. The nitrous oxide produces a relaxing effect without causing the child to fall asleep; they remain lucid, but calm during the procedure. While under the effects of nitrous oxide gas, children may feel lightheaded or experience a sensation similar to floating.
Recognized as one of the least invasive sedation methods used by dentists, the levels can easily be controlled and adjusted to meet the child’s specific needs. In addition, considering that the gas wears off fairly quickly, there are few residual effects afterward.
Nitrous oxide sedation is safe and ideal for children who:
- Experience fear and anxiety about dental visits and procedures.
- Have a short attention span or difficulty following instructions and sitting still.
- Have a strong gag reflex that could interfere with the dentist’s ability to perform routine procedures.
- Have special health care needs.
- Are resistant to local anesthesia due to fear.
- Will be undergoing a prolonged dental procedure.
Nitrous oxide is a great option for helping children relax and remain calm during routine cleanings, fillings, or other procedures. By helping to soothe them during dental procedures, nitrous oxide ensures their physical safety while creating a positive experience and overall better dental care.
As a full-service dental clinic, the team at Milltown Dental creates appropriate treatment plans for every member of your family to address your pediatric, general, and cosmetic dentistry needs. Our pediatric dentist in Milton can review the different sedation options ahead of your child’s procedure, and help you make an informed decision.
What are the benefits of nitrous oxide?
A major advantage of nitrous oxide is that it can be used for multiple different dental procedures, ranging from cleaning teeth to filling cavities. At the same time, it can also be used in conjunction with local anesthesia when required.
Along with these benefits, there are numerous other reasons to opt for nitrous oxide, including the following:
1. Fast relaxation
Nitrous oxide differs from other types of sedation because it can be used to help a child relax without putting them to sleep. This ensures the patient remains awake and responsive during the procedure. The gas allows children to sit comfortably in the dentist’s chair without fidgeting or tensing up while they receive the necessary treatments.
Nitrous oxide is often referred to as laughing gas because one of the side effects includes feeling euphoric, which may cause the child to giggle or laugh during the procedure.
Another great benefit of nitrous oxide is that it takes effect and wears off quickly. The nitrous oxide begins to wear off once the dentist changes the breathing mask to release only 100% oxygen at the end.
A common misconception occurs when nitrous oxide is compared to oral sedation, which has significantly longer effects that linger for a while after the appointment; thus requiring careful monitoring for several hours. The effects of nitrous oxide, however, wear off typically before the patient leaves the office, allowing them to carry on with their regular day-to-day activities immediately, including at school.
3. No long-term side effects
Since nitrous oxide has no long-term or lingering side effects, it is a safe sedation option for patients of all ages, including young children. During the initial administration, a child may feel mildly lightheaded or that their limbs are heavier. If that is the case, there is no need to worry, because it is a normal reaction.
Any effects your child feels as a result of the nitrous oxide will wear off as soon as they receive pure oxygen after the treatment. Overall, nitrous oxide creates a sense of safety and relaxation in patients, allowing the dentist to complete the procedure successfully without interruption.
Despite efforts to create a safe, informed environment for patients, some children may still feel hesitant about their visit—this is common. Our pediatric dentist in Milton offers nitrous oxide sedation options to help keep them calm and comfortable during their procedures. At Milltown Dental, we aim to provide a welcoming environment where your children can learn how to properly care for their teeth with brushing and flossing tips to keep their oral health on track.
How is nitrous oxide administered to children?
Pediatric nitrous oxide is delivered to children through a small fitted mask that covers their noses. The mask carries a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide into the child’s lungs as they breathe normally through their nose. The nitrous oxide sedation takes effect in about five minutes. However, the mask will remain in place throughout the entire procedure to allow the dentist to make any adjustments that may be needed.
Nitrous oxide is safe for patients of all ages. That said, the levels used will vary depending on the individual needs of each child. Once the procedure has concluded, the dentist will turn off the nitrous oxide gas and begin delivering pure oxygen through the mask. The child breathes in pure oxygen for a few minutes before leaving; this ensures any remaining gas is cleared out of their system.
Our pediatric dentist in Milton believes in gentle treatment and will walk you through every step of your child’s appointment so you are never surprised or worried about their care. At Milltown Dental, we want to grow with your family, creating a life-long relationship that will encourage healthy dental habits that allow your entire family to achieve optimum oral health.
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